Guimerà

Guimerà

Guimerà, Ángel, 1845?-1924, Catalan poet and dramatist. His first successful play, Mar y cel [sea and sky] (1888), was followed by many others, among them Maria Rosa (1894) and his masterpiece, Terra baixa (1896; tr. Marta of the Lowlands, 1914). These were translated into Spanish by Echegaray. Guimerà's work is characterized by vigor and imagination and tends toward the sensual and macabre.
Àngel Guimerà (1845 - 1924) was a Spanish Catalan language writer, born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, to a Catalan father and a Canary islander mother. At an early age, Guimerà's family moved to Catalonia, where they settled at his father's birthplace, El Vendrell.

Guimerà wrote a number of popular plays, which were translated into other languages and performed abroad, proving instrumental in the revival of Catalan as a literary language (Renaixença) at the turn of the century. By far the most famous was his realistic drama Terra baixa (Lowlands, also translated as Martha of the Lowlands). Written in 1896, it quickly became an international sensation. The play was translated into 15 different languages and the Spanish translation was presented regularly for a period of thirty years by Enric Borràs's theatre throughout Spain and Latin America. In English, the play received three Broadway productions between 1903 and 1936.

In addition to being a popular stage play, Terra baixa was made into six films, including a silent film in the United States, entitled "Marta of the Lowlands" (1914) and Leni Riefenstahl's Tiefland (1954). Furthermore, it served as the source material for two operas: Eugen d'Albert's German opera Tiefland (1903) and Fernand Le Borne's La Catalane (French). Playwright Àngel Guimerà was even nominated a record 17 times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, though he never won, due to controversy about the political significance of the gesture.

Terra baixa is the story of Marta, a poor girl from Barcelona, who finds herself the young lover to Sebastià, the most important landowner in the Catalan lowlands. Sebastià must marry a woman of prominence to keep his land and inheritance. To squelch gossip of his relationship with Marta but still keep her as his lover, Sebastià marries her off to the unsuspecting Manelic, a young shepherd from the Pyrenees, and sets the newly weds up in the house attached to the town's mill. Marta finds herself torn between her old domineering lover and her new caring husband.

He was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in 1904, to be shared with the Provençal writer Frédéric Mistral, in recognition of their contributions to literature in non-official languages. Political pressure from Spain having made this prize impossible , it was eventually awarded to Mistral and to the Spanish language playwright José de Echegaray.

When Guimerà died in 1924, he was offered a state funeral in Barcelona of a proportion which had never been seen before.

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